UCLAN Deadline

In Art & Design, Random on May 20, 2016 at 11:55 pm

I didn’t make the same mistake, I was up early – in fact, too early – and just sat on the sofa letting the morning sink in. I grabbed a croissant and got on from Oxford Road to Preston, my mind was empty, maybe preparing myself for what was ahead. I knew we’d only have 6 to 7 hours before deadline, I hope they covered enough ground last night. I stopped by the shops to get snacks for everyone, sugar, lots of sugar to power them through the day – it’s a morale thing, snacks will power their happiness!

I arrived to start trimming straight away, managed to steal a metal ruler and cutting mat from the foyer around the corner, we cleaned up the place as much as we could, organising is what I do best. I brought my thick red marker – that was so important and was used throughout the day for EMPHASIS! The red marker and my notes were dotted everywhere. It’s my OCD talking but it added some colours on the wall, it’s a flashback for me, I used to do shitty posters to keep people amused.

Time really flew by, I did so much cutting it was unbelievable, K did all the mounting in the spraybooths downstairs, we had a conveyor belt of foam boards to cut. A couple of the students finished early and helped everyone out, I loved them, they were amazing. I floated between cutting, artworking, and positioning things on the wall. I deliberately ignored the time… there was so much going on I didn’t see the point in knowing what time it was!

I bumped into Rachel, she didn’t know I was there, great to see her again and she’s not changed one bit except for longer hair. We had a brief catch-up and it’s always fantastic to re-connect. Saw Andy and Pete here and there, but had zero time to chat.

It was 2pm when I realised nobody had their lunch, I wasn’t hungry either. The red marker came out to indicate 2 hours left… before I knew it, half an hour was gone, then we had one hour left. The pace was insane! Most people completed their portfolios and boards – there were a few who decided not to put anything up, four of them, I was disappointed that they chose not to but can also understand why. Still, it didn’t stop the majority of the class doing theirs.

4pm arrived, that was it, we had to lock the doors. It’s been one hell of a day, nothing I couldn’t handle, there was only so much we could have done. I am however, immensely proud of them all, they did amazing and it felt good to be able to help out. We were thanked with a card and beer. We did what we could and I hope my input helped them. I absolutely loved the day, he pressure wasn’t that bad but I work best with it.

We had a drink in the student union bar, knocked my first beer over… myself (and K!), so unpleasant. I had our third year 2003 photo album which brought a lot of laughter, went to another bar… (used to be Times Square), chatted to John, Andy and Pete, they loved the photo album. The advertising headed for Roper Hall, me and K joined them for the rest of the evening. We must have started drinking just after 4pm, went on a bit until 11pm, no idea where the time went. I remember playing pool, preaching about graphics, chatting to the students, made a promise to get to the degree show, I have to now… hoping to leave early that Friday.

Me and K got the last train home. It was fantastic to spend the evening with the students taking it easy. Had a good review with K on the way back, we went our separate ways and… I actually felt sad cos I missed them! I spent two days helping out and got to know them well.

What a day, I hardly had any food – been on a liquid diet.

What an experience though, would I go back and do it again on deadline week?


First time teaching at UCLAN

In Art & Design, Hope on May 19, 2016 at 11:55 pm

My mate K is teaching at UCLAN, not for Graphic Design that we both studied for but Advertising as they were struggling for staff. He was parachuted in three weeks ago to push the students toward the finishing line, I was parachuted in today to help out, the deadline is… tomorrow! I already spent a day with them and… I loved it, I’m also disappointed that we couldn’t do more because I think with the time available – we could have pushed harder.

Anyway, the day didn’t start the way I wanted, I overslept my alarm and woke at 7:52am… I was supposed to meet K at Victoria station at 8! I hailed a cab and realised the heart of the main road was closed for the weekend running event, the detour wasn’t too bad but it still took me longer than normal and cost me £7 to get across town! My train fare is only £4 to Preston! I was annoyed at myself – I was supposed to save money!

K gave me the low-down of all the individuals, only 15 students with varying skills and commitment levels, we wanted to hit the ground running and I like being prepared. Preston is now prettier, a bit more refined… like a city and not a town! I carried a grin from the station all the way to Victoria building, all my old memories came back – yup, I had the time of my life there, we had an absolute blast… *sigh, I’m feeling a little emotional now, it was amazing, our tight-knit 2003 group.

We arrived to just three in the Mac room, I got on and spoke to each one – tried to elevate their artwork… before I knew it, it was 12pm! It’s horrible being in the windowless Mac room (the same one we were in!). Me and K grabbed lunch, managed to see Pete and Andy, brilliant and surreal to think they used to teach me and now I’ve joined them! The new student union (new to me!) is interesting, food is nice and cheap. It was there and then, when I had time to reflect on the half day… I realised we did SO LITTLE!!!

Time flew by too quickly and not many picked up their pace despite our encouragement – we know for a fact tomorrow will be a nightmare day of cutting and mounting – we know how hard it is. The students have no idea what’s involved, they think a print, cut and stick job is easy. Multiply that by 15 students and 6 projects each – that’s a minimum 90 boards, Holy Crap! The deadline is 4pm – that gives us 7 hours to get it sorted. That’s just the boards – the portfolio is something entirely else, they have to have the portfolio ready too… so really, we’re literally going to drown in the deep end tomorrow. Luckily Guy (other part-time teacher) will join me and K, so there’ll be three of us to handle it all. Fingers crossed!

The afternoon went by equally quickly, some started panicking when the shitty Uni mac gave up on them – I was astounded by the poor quality of equipment there, our A1 printer failed yesterday and today the A3 printer cocked up because the magenta toner wasn’t working properly. I heard dissent on where the student fee went – and rightly so, I was utterly confounded by the lack of investment in the facility. How can the student pay so much… and not get anything back? It’s outrageous frankly. I was pissed off, it’s ridiculous… the students NEED reliable Macs that doesn’t crash every other minute and lose their work! It’s annoying, they deserve so much better.

Towards the end of the day I got to know them, I like the bunch, they all have potential and I don’t think they’ve been pushed hard enough – I seriously think they have more to give. From what K told me and from what I’ve seen, I think he’s done a brilliant job gelling the year – I’m really rooting for them. We have 7 hours tomorrow to do the best we can to elevate their work… they deserve it, even though I don’t work for UCLAN, I feel like I need to help them as much as I can, they’ve been shafted somewhere along the line, and it’s not on.

The energy fizzled out later – probably ran out! I think we were consigned to have the work printed as soon as, that’s part of my regret, we didn’t spend enough time helping them hone the style – I reckon we could have elevated a lot of the work. That part is over, we can’t do that now, it’s all hands on deck for the display boards!

My phone died, not before I found out the freelance cover called in sick and my work colleague was hungover from 10+ pints last night. Right, sounds like a shit house today! Not looking forward to cleaning the mess on Monday.

I left at 6:45pm, managed to get back to Manchester in time for Contemporary, the studio was packed and sweaty. C finally made an appearance, was so happy to see her I needed a hug from her. I was more tired than I thought cos I felt emotional and was just very happy to see her! I enjoyed the hour, I NEEDED it, loved the routine. Rehearsal afterwards went well, the girl in front asked to swap with me so I had to change position, now it’s down to me to keep count – no pressure! We only added a bit more at the end but I will need to see the video… to catch the moment I should walk in.

It’s been a long day, after travel, uni, dance and rehearsal, shower and tea, it was 10:30pm. Tomorrow will be busier – I say bring it on!

How did I find teaching?

Loved it, BUT I was a little taken aback by the student’s lack of pace (only some, a few were magnificent) in face of an impending deadline, I underestimated how much we could do – we planned to do loads but only managed maybe 10%, it’s bitterly disappointing we couldn’t do more. I’m frustrated by the lack of equipment, we had to work around that, it didn’t help that the Macs were so low on memory that it crashed all the time. I like the students – I feel it’s my responsibility to help them as much as I can. The good ones are doing really well, I like that, we have to get the rest on track. I didn’t mind the travelling, it was fabulous seeing Andy and Pete again. Tomorrow night – pints waiting at the end! YAY!

What a day!… better sleep now!


Compania Olga Pericet, Sin titulo at The Lowry.

In Dance, Manchester on May 11, 2016 at 11:55 pm

This has been on the calendar for a while, I have very little knowledge of Olga Pericet but from what I heard – she’s one of the leading Flamenco artist in Spain, or even in the world! Gloria told me about this, it didn’t take much persuasion to book the tickets. I asked CS from Contemporary to come along, she was as excited as me! We had a nice meal in Wagamama and finished just in time for the show at 8, perfect timing if you ask me.

There was no ‘set’, there were three highly effective downlighters/lamps (?) that lowered from above, it created a lovely dark ambient for the performers. There were two magnificent guitarists and two singers who provided the unmistakable rhythm, that beat we hear in every class, DA-dah-dah DA-dah-dah, DA-dah DA-dah DA-dah, rinse repeat. We’ve been trying to drum this into our brain so we feel it instead of hearing it.

I adored the show, we were both captivated from beginning to end. Olga herself is small in frame but huge in presence, your eyes are drawn to her demeanor, you are drawn to the passion and she oozed it. All her movements were sharp and fast, slicing with such accuracy you wonder how a human waist can twist so quickly. Her upper torso movements were so, so solid.

I’ve been thinking about Flamenco the wrong way – in my mind, it’s steps and foot work, oh noooo. Throughout the evening, I barely noticed her feet, which also explains why a lot of Flamenco dancers wear dark tights or trousers. My attention was always drawn to the body, the arms especially, they’re like wings catching flight – and the wrists add another dimension of expression. The performance, the show piece is the body that speak to the audience visually, the amazing steps are almost… instruments, like a guitarist, you don’t care how the equipment is used, you look at the person – same here, you’re less bothered about the feet, you watch the person and listen to the beautiful rhythm that come off the floor. The pressure of movements shoot out onto the ground, like lightning… like compression and release. Bit like a coiled snake, the legs sting the floor, the body coils and coils… oh, she was beautifully mesmerising, she was just… wow.

That’s the most important thing I picked up this evening, I’m seeing Flamenco from a different perspective now, maybe in my next class I can dance differently. I’m certainly inspired by Olga and her company, she just lit a fuse in me. I’ve been watching short Youtube clips – but it’s nothing compared to seeing Flamenco live and especially from such an accomplished artist as her. I’ve dissected the dance, and I understand it a little more now – hopefully I can apply this in class!

I also really liked the Quays Theatre, it’s a smaller stage behind/under the big main one, I was really surprised by its decent size, I absolutely adored the decor and the colour. Shame about the turnout tonight, there weren’t that many people – and I think this show deserves a bigger audience. At the end we raised our arms in a long applause, I hope we showed our appreciation – they were just sensational!

Brilliant show, brilliant company, perfect evening!

(All images from


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